Dear Jeff and All,
Good to hear your views, and I think they are important. Also, not at odds or incompatible with the desire for people to consume food grown locally, and to help shape prices and production goals accordingly. There is an issue of stakeholding and local control here, one which often gets shortchanged or distorted in the international marketplace.
In fact, this links with MyFoodStory and fair-trade generally: the glut of cocoa now being produced, and prices being set by foreign consumers, does not help African farmers, rather hurts them. At this point, African farmers seem to be at the mercy of the international marketplace, rather than being able to help shape it. Cacao-growing may also take precedence over growing other crops too, and developing a greater sense and fact of food security.
The point is not necessarily for Africans to grow more cocoa/cacao and absorb the glut, but to actively engage in helping to shape markets and set prices with their own patterns of consumption (true for any food product), which will hopefully lessen distortions for local and national economies in Africa, due to the current focus on producing for foreign consumption.
Yes, it's definitely true that basic nutritional needs are often not met now, and need to be. But the article states an important truth: that prices and production goals are set by consumers elsewhere, rather than by Africans themselves, because the entire market is geared towards foreign consumption. It would be great if Africans could enjoy more of the fruits of their labors (literally!), and set production goals and prices which better reflect the conditions present in their own settings.
Foreign consumption will continue to be an important source of markets and income, but there is nothing "wrong-headed"--in my view--with encouraging consumption of locally-grown foods at the local level, both as a principle and also in terms of its economic effects. This seems to be more the point of the push to do this with cocoa/cacao, more than a focus on Africans eating more chocolate for its own sake.
Cacao has many wonderful uses, and so does cocoa! And there is some nutritional component in this food source too, as well as pure enjoyment. With the chocolate project last fall, there were some great suggestions for increasing domestic consumption of the products under discussion, and the suggestions in the current article are along those lines.
It is an imperative to increase better nutrition, production of nutrient-rich crops, and food security, as you point out. There is a direct linkage between doing that and being able to control or at least help shape (have meaningful input) labor practices, production, and prices, so in any program meant to address the former, the latter will need to be considered...and vice-versa!
Thanks again and yours in nutritional networking, Janet
>From: Jeff Buderer <jeff@...>
>Sent: Nov 11, 2006 9:12 AM
>Cc: holistichelping <firstname.lastname@example.org>, minciu_sodas_EN <minciu_sodas_EN@yahoogroups.com>
>Subject: Re: [socialagriculture] Think Global, Eat Local: Increasing African Consumption of African-Produced Cocoa
>Maybe I am misunderstanding the text of the post...I have to say I cant
>see it as a priority to distribute cocoa to Nigerian children when basic
>nutritional needs are not met. The issue to me is not making cocoa
>producing countries less dependent on consumers abroad but the fact that
>the priority is given to affluent consumer needs while people in their
>own country's do not get their basic nutritional needs met.
> Feldman wrote:
>> Think Global, Eat Local
>> Toye Olori
>> *LAGOS, Oct 30 (IPS) - It's certainly a logical suggestion: in an
>> effort to make cocoa-producing countries in Africa less dependent on
>> consumers abroad, why not increase domestic consumption of cocoa
>> While Africa produces more than 75 per cent of the world's cocoa,
>> according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the
>> continent consumes only about two percent of this produce. The
>> remainder goes to Europe and the United States which, some claim, have
>> too big a say over cocoa prices as a result -- prices that are set
>> without much consideration for production costs.
>> A glut of cocoa has also played a part in forcing down prices fetched
>> by the commodity on the international market. In addition, European
>> cocoa buyers have tied lower prices to bad quality cocoa beans from
>> "The most pragmatic way for Africa to control what goes to the
>> international market in order to influence the cocoa price, is to
>> significantly increase local consumption within Africa," says Abiodun
>> Falusi, professor of agricultural economics at the University of
>> Ibadan in south-western Nigeria.
>> "African countries, though the largest producers, cannot influence
>> prices (of cocoa) due to bulk export of raw cocoa beans, low level of
>> domestic consumption...and weak demand in the major consuming
>> countries -- which calls for the development of a sustainable policy
>> framework for African cocoa in the world market."
>> In fact, a resolution on increasing local consumption of cocoa was
>> taken during a meeting of eight African cocoa producing nations during
>> May this year, in Nigeria's capital -- Abuja. (The attending states
>> comprised Cote d' Ivoire -- the world's largest cocoa producer -- and
>> Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo and Uganda.)
>> The countries agreed that this should be achieved through development
>> of cocoa consumption habits, raising awareness amongst citizens of the
>> nutritional and health benefits of cocoa products -- and encouraging
>> research, development and commercialisation of new cocoa products.
>> "We all agreed at the Abuja summit that we will encourage the local
>> consumption of a higher proportion of cocoa...because when we consume
>> a lot of it locally, we will be in a position to reduce what goes out
>> to the international market, and by this we can control prices,"
>> Akinwale Ojo, executive secretary of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria
>> (CAN), told IPS in an interview from Akure, in south-west Nigeria. CAN
>> is an umbrella organisation for the country's cocoa farmers,
>> processors, buyers and exporters.
>> But implementing this resolution is likely to prove something of a
>> challenge, said Angela Okisor, an agriculture analyst based in the
>> Nigerian financial capital of Lagos.
>> "The level of poverty in the various countries makes the consumption
>> of cocoa products a luxury. For example, how much can an average
>> Nigerian set aside for cocoa beverages each month given the economic
>> situation of the country?" she asks. According to the 2005 Human
>> Development Report, produced by the United Nations Development
>> Programme, about 70 percent of Nigerians live on less than a dollar a
>> Steps taken by Nigeria's government in recent years might show the way.
>> Authorities in this West African country have introduced cocoa as
>> supplement for children, as part of an initiative to provide free
>> lunches at schools. Under a pilot programme that got underway in April
>> 2005, 2.5 million primary school pupils in 12 of the nation's 36
>> states are being given at least one meal daily, and a cup of cocoa.
>> The initiative is aimed at increasing enrolment, so that Nigeria can
>> attain universal primary education. Research by the Ministry of
>> Education has shown that a substantial number of primary school pupils
>> do not eat enough to ensure proper school attendance and performance,
>> while almost half of the children between seven and 15 years are
>> In addition, "The introduction of cocoa drinks in primary schools as
>> part of the school feeding programme of government, if successfully
>> implemented, will inculcate the habit of cocoa beverage consumption in
>> Nigerian youths and eventually adults," says a 2005 report by
>> government's Universal Basic Education Committee.
>> Officials further plan to ensure that within the next few years, 50
>> percent of cocoa beans harvested in the country is locally processed
>> to produce beverages for domestic consumption.
>> The Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, based in Ibadan,
>> south-western Nigeria, has also developed varieties of cocoa products
>> -- including cocoa cream, liquor, cocoa bread, cakes and biscuits --
>> that could be put on the market. However, the institute is finding it
>> difficult to convince investors to buy the patent rights for most of
>> these products, a critical step towards mass local production.
>> Warns Falusi, "Without a drastic increase in local processing of
>> cocoa, the campaign for increased domestic consumption will continue
>> to be a mirage."
>> Some have speculated about creating a situation in which African
>> producers would exercise the same degree of control over cocoa prices
>> as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has over oil.
>> But CAN's Ojo does not believe this is likely. "To say we will operate
>> like OPEC is impossible, because cocoa is an agricultural product --
>> one can not predict if it will do well in any given year. Production
>> is controlled by a lot of things, including weather and pests," he
>> notes. "But, what the summit has put in place will lift the industry."
>> In a communique issued at the end of the Abuja meeting, cocoa
>> producers also agreed to target countries that are not considered
>> traditional consumers of cocoa, such as China and India, in
>> "aggressive international campaigns" intended to spark greater
>> consumption. Furthermore, they plan to promote intra-African trade in
>> cocoa products through the New Partnership for Africa's Development,
>> and regional blocs.
>> The fate of millions could be affected by these initiatives.
>> "In Africa, cocoa provides employment for over two million farming
>> households directly, with another five million indirect beneficiaries
>> in the form of input provisions, marketing, warehousing and quality
>> control. A larger figure is employed in other support services," said
>> Adamu Bello, Nigeria's minister of agriculture and rural development,
>> at the Abuja gathering.
>> "In all, well over 20 million Africans in the major producing
>> countries rely on the cocoa economy as a source of livelihood."
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